SHREVEPORT, La (KMSS/KTAL) – As the Mudbugs continue their playoff push, this opportunity to see those who mean the most to each player was a special one for Davis Goukler.

On April 23 The Shreveport Mudbugs held family weekend at George’s pond, but the smiles on faces don’t show the familial sacrifices made as Mudbug players chase their hockey dreams.

“It was heartbreaking when I sent him. He was my firstborn, he’s my pride and joy, and when we first sent him away. It was very difficult,” said Melissa Feczko, the mother of Mudbugs forward Billy Feczko. The third-year Mudbug said the opportunities to see his family in person are rare.

“A couple of times a year, Thanksgiving, Christmas, usually you get like one other break maybe to go home.”

As players leave home to begin their junior hockey careers. There’s a wide range of emotions

I was really excited, for my wife Heather. His mother, it was really sad. It was the first time that we had somebody leaving the nest,” said Rick Goukler, the father of Mudbug Davis Goukler.

The Shreveport defenseman experienced a different emotion than his mother,
I was pumped I was super excited,” Goukler said. “Obviously my mom was sad, you know, seeing her little boy, leave the house for the first time.”

When it’s time to watch their boys in person, some special things can happen.

“The first time we came here, Billy, won the game for them in a shootout and 3,000 fans screaming and going crazy. My husband, his eyes were filled with tears and my daughter was making fun of him because we were just so proud.”

It was a special moment for Billy as well, as the Illinois native had just turned 17.

That was kind of the big moment I realized, wow, I’m in a different thing down here. This is something special.”

Even with state lines separating them the familial bonds are strong. Billy Feczko says the distance has increased the bond he’s built with his mother.

“My mom, she’s, she’s the best and I love her and, and we’ve gotten pretty close with me being away.”

For Rick Goukler, it was a situation he was prepared for.

“I feel really fortunate in the fact that throughout travel hockey, we spend a lot of time with your kids as you’re traveling across the country, all these different places all these different experiences.”

“I love them to death and they’re my family at the end of the day so you cherish every moment you get with them.”